A lot of the Fan Yay turned out to be entirely correct once the actual series started airing. The boys are rather touchy-feely and are perfectly comfortable with each other's bodies. To say nothing of Nagisa deciding to skinny-dip for no reason...
Young Rin to Haru: Romantic, right?
The ending animation has - and this is true - the main four Iwatobi swimmers dancing together in (upon closer inspection) a gay night club in the empty pool by the Taj Mahal.
And Rin beckons Haruka to skinny dip with him and the others in an oasis at the end of it.
This post dissects their sleeping positions in Episode five. This post dissects them even more. Basically, had they been sleeping in the original arrangement (Makoto and Haru in one tent, Rei and Nagisa in the other), there probably would have been some hand-holding and cuddling going on.
Speaking of tents, after Makoto suggested an arrangement where he would share a tent with Haruka, Nagisa immediately argued that he wanted to be with Haruka. Neither one of them simply backed down to let the other share with Haruka; they literally gambled over the chance to sleep next to him. ...Poor Rei.
It has practically become a Love Triangle between Haruka, Makoto, and Rin with a Betty and Veronica dynamic: Haruka (Archie), Makoto (Betty) and Rin (Veronica)
"You will swim for me."/"I want to swim with you." The parallel can't be coincidence.
Makoto's words are actually a Meaningful Echo of Rin's just before the original four were going to their final relay together. So it could be seen as the two most significant "swimming" relationships Haruka has.
In season 2 episode 6, Makoto even admits that he has some jealousy toward Rin in regards to Haru.
The guys filled their pool full of cherry blossoms, just for Rin.
In episode 11, Makoto told Haru, "You’re not fine! That’s why we’re all telling you this! Nagisa and Rei and Rin... and me… It’s because we all love you. Because we care about you." It's true, Haru's friends all love him a great deal and are worried about him.
Makoto and Haruka tend to act quite a lot like an old married couple, with Makoto completely comfortable walking into Haruka's bathroom when he knows him to be in the bath. Some of the looks Makoto gives Haruka are affectionate. Really affectionate. He also tends to say exactly what Haruka is thinking (something acknowledged in the light novel), and does a lot of small gestures to, for lack of a better term, take care of Haruka, like bringing him lunch or, more relevantly, helping him out of the water.
Haruka and Makoto's horoscopes are the most compatible to each other, among the others ones. They belong to the Water Element.
In the chinese astrology, Cancer is associated to the Sheep, and Scorpio is associated to the Pig. As the Cancer and Scorpio are defined as the best compatibility, the Sheep and the Pig make the best compatibility too, in the Fire/Water balance.
The killer whale is a dolphin just like the dolphin Haruka represents. They are carnivorous mammals, belong to the same order of cetacea and family of delphinidae.
The killer whale and the dolphin share some majestic attracts as their nicknames tell so, such as the "king of the sea" for the killer whale, and the "prince of the waves" for the dolphin.
Haruka's first name may be a derived version of the word "iruka", which means "present" and "dolphin".
Check out one of their duets! The song practically drips with warm and fluffy feelings.
Haruka and Makoto are the singers of an inedite song named Water Surprise, from SPLASH FREE single.
A rather subtle one in Episode 2. While discussing the opening of a Swim Club, Haru goes to get some tea and snacks. Makoto suggests squid, Nagisa wants chocolate, Haru says they'll compromise and make mackerel. What does he make in the end? Squid. Of course.
Shows Haruka as caring about Makoto at least as much when he questions his comfort of going to the ocean despite his fear.
A fan dissection of ending cards and promo material points out that they always seem to be eating the same kind of popsicle - and these are always the kind of popsicles which are broken in two and shared.
An operation we actually see them perform in Episode five: Makoto buys a popsicle at a corner store and hands half to Haruka, who takes it with the comfort of routine.
The bottom ending card also has Haruka wearing a shirt that Makoto wears in the next episode.
A magazine article has the scriptwriter describing Makoto and Haruka as 'being one set' and saying it's easy to make their discussions like those of a married couple.
The October 2014 magazine defines Makoto and Haruka as more than childhood friends and less than rivals. That means that there's no need, or it is even "meaningless" for Makoto and Haruka to be rivals.
It's safe to say Episode 6 was filled with romantic subtext for Makoto and Haruka. Let's count the ways...
Haruka hears Makoto's scream while sleeping, and wakes up suddenly.
Haruka chooses to save Makoto.
Haruka getting within an inch of reviving Makoto with CPR.
Haruka orders Rei to drop the question about Makoto's fear of the ocean in order to protect him.
Haru and Makoto holding hands tightly as kids in Makoto's flashback.
Makoto telling Haru that the real reason he wanted to join/create the swim club was because he wants to swim with him; "Without you, it's meaningless!" It was worded and framed like a love confession more than anything, and knowing how important swimming is to Haruka, it may as well have been. The shared look between them before Nagisa interrupts cements the imagery.
Nagisa compares Haru and Makoto to a couple about to enter a haunted house when the group decides to stay at a creepy-looking rest house.
That look Makoto gives Haruka towards the end of the episode is certainly suggestive of... something. It's enough to leave Haruka a little stunned.
The drama CDs named If he was Your Boyfriend has Nagisa asking the Iwatobi group which one out of them all they would most want to date. Haruka picks Makoto immediately.
Episode 7 once again has Makoto looking at Haruka the way he quite often does, especially when Rin is involved.
Episode 8 even more so when Haru came out to see Makoto after his backstroke medley. Makoto even waited patiently (albeit worried) for Haru to come home.
It also gives us Haruka who, upon finding Makoto asleep in the hall with his phone held in his hands, looks at him like this. The whole sequence shows how much he cares about the team in general but Makoto is still special, apparently.
Episode 7 symbolized Haruka's despair over being swim-dumped by Rin by showing the reflection of Rin in his eye swirling into darkness◊. When Haruka comes home, finds Makoto asleep at his door, and gives that previously mentioned look, with Makoto reflected in his eye, he remembers what Makoto told him before: "Without you, it's meaningless. I want to swim with you, Haru!" He then closes his eyes softly as if realizing something or making a decision, and then wakes up Makoto. Another really romantically frame scene.
We need to talk about Episode 9. Now!
After the boys win their relay and Haru catches his breath, they all say how excited and happy they are. Nagisa actually uses the words "My heart was racing just watching!" No outward reaction from Haru until Makoto says "Mine's still racing!" Cue another one of those.
Makoto - with some momentary hesitance - tells a clearly distracted and out-of-sorts Haru that despite feeling a bit frantic about the relay, he was really happy swimming with Haru and everyone and the thing◊ with the gazing◊ happened again. Then Haru gives a speech/confession very similar to the one Makoto gave in Episode 6 about wanting to swim with Makoto and the others, saying that it made him just as happy. Haruka said right out that something made him happy, and he was visually and audibly choked with emotion about it. The parallels to Makoto's speech made the whole thing feel like confessing a Love Epiphany. How happy Makoto looks◊ really drives that impression home.
About that confession, the way Haruka's eyes shine when Makoto gives him that speech is something that yet Rin or water have to give him.
Haruka won Makoto some goldfish, which is already sweet even without knowing about Makoto's backstory and the relevance of goldfish (also won at a festival!) in it. This look◊ seems awfully familiar◊...
Episode 10 divises every present pairing : Nagisa with Rei, Goro Sasabe with Miho Amakata, and of course… Haruka with Makoto. While Nagisa playfully chases Rei with his firework pointed on him, Haruka picks fire from Makoto's firework, instead to pick one himself.
This gesture from Haruka kinda means he cannot or doesn't want to do anything on his own, as if he can get and do anything as long Makoto is near.
This zoom moment on the fireworks is much symbolic to define Haruka and Makoto as two souls apart from one united soul, with Haruka as the twin flame of Makoto.
So, how about that Episode 11?
"Makoto... I appreciate you being here for me. Thanks." Haru's so flustered he has to go for a run immediately afterwards.
How about when Makoto says that he is nervous about being in a hotel room alone with Haru? What does he expect is going to happen?
More... innocuously, they come off more and more like a married couple with each passing episode, and it was really apparent in this one. They're inseparable up until Haru gets flustered and has to go for a run, Haru waits for Makoto when the latter gets winded climbing up some tall stairs, Haru turns to Makoto to hide his laughter when Rei does something funny... This look◊ they share after Rei pleasantly surprises them is remarkably like a fond look between proud parents.
A few days after Haruka has an accident and falls into a river, he returns to school. The first thing Makoto does is fuss and worry about him, to which Haruka initially responds with subtle annoyance, and when he looks away, the narration remarks that he does it as though he just doesn't want to see Makoto looking so worried. And then, similar to a certain moment in episode 11, he suddenly raises his voice and suddenly calls Makoto's name to stop him while he's fussing... only to say "Thank you" and then runs off, leaving Makoto stunned speechless.
The first thing Makoto thinks about in his fit of emotion after his goldfish dies is how much he needs to see Haruka:
Makoto needed to see him right now. Tomorrow is no good. I'm going to see him now. If he didn't go, Makoto felt like he wouldn't be able to stay himself. I want to see Haruka.
Afterwards, when he finds Haru and they have a short conversation, Haru asks him if he needed him for something. Makoto tells responds him "Yeah, but I guess seeing your face took care of it" implying that just seeing Haru completely calmed him down. And although Haru asks him "The heck does that mean?" about his response, he smiles while saying it.
And then, later on, there's this line, making it clear that Haruka's mind reading abilities are just as strong towards Makoto as Makoto's are to Haru:
Makoto looked into Haruka's eyes. He realized that the one whose heart was being seen through was him. That was how it had always been, since they were children. For someone who never talked about himself, Haruka certainly knew everything about Makoto. He made sure he knew everything.
Makoto picking up Haru at the beginning of Free! Eternal Summer as a call back to the very first episode. Not to mention the disappointed look Makoto gives Haru after seeing that he's still wearing his bathing suit in the bathtub.
In episode 03 of Free! Eternal Summer, the relay commentator states the pass from Haruka to Makoto as one "smooth baton pass" ; like "two bodies in perfect harmony".
In Nagisa's focus episode (Episode 5 of Eternal Summer), they come off like parents. Their interactions, the "camera" angle and the general dialogue really makes it look like parents taking care of their troubled children (Nagisa and Rei).
Episode 6 of S2 focuses largely on Haru and Makoto's relationship.
In a flashback to their childhood, it's shown that Haru only joined the swim club because Makoto thought swimming would be meaningless without him.
Makoto outright states that the reason he wanted to race Haru is because he was jealous of Rin. Interpret that as you will.
Haruka : Why do you swim?
Makoto : Because I want to swim with you. And with all my friends."
When Kisumi returns in episode 8 of S2, Haru is very unenthusiastic about his appearance, especially when you consider that in High Speed!! 2, Kisumi seems to get along with Makoto very well and tries to enlist him on the basketball team. In one of Haru's flashbacks about Kisumi, there's a scene where Kisumi has his arm around Makoto, leading him away from Haru, and Kisumi turns back with his tongue sticking out, as though mocking him.
In a very tsundere fashion, Haru says he'll only visit Makoto at the swim club if he has the time. In the very next scene, we see Haru at the swim club, holding Makoto's lunch. This takes place after Makoto informs Haru that Kisumi has reappeared, further fueling the idea that Haru is jealous.
The new Spoon2di magazine art presents Makoto, Haruka, Sousuke and Rin standing around a sign post. Haruka and Makoto head to the "Eternal" direction.
In episode 9 of S2, Haru and Makoto share a hotel room yet again. There's even a scene where Makoto asks Haru for a towel just as he's getting out of the shower. Unfortunately, Haru has already left to go for a run. Also, note that the bathroom door isn't even closed when Makoto is showering.
Haru immediately looks over at Makoto after waking from his nightmare, almost as if seeking comfort.
Before Haruka's nightmare, Haruka and Makoto are seen drinking together in a bar; also interpreted as a date.
Makoto's mind reading powers are stronger than ever in this episode. He seems to be the only one who can tell that Haru is stressed out about his future plans and the expectations others have of him.
In episode 11 of ES, we have Makoto holding on to Haruka's wrist throughout the entirety of their argument. He only lets go when dropping the bomb that he plans to move to Tokyo for university, essentially breaking Haru's heart.
In Episode 12, Haru is so upset by his fight with Makoto that he doesn't even want to go near water. Rin can automatically tell that Haru is thinking about Makoto as well. As if to console Haru, Rin says that he has fights with Sousuke all the time. The conversation comes off as two friends talking about their respective boyfriends.
Makoto only seems to want the best for Haru while in Australia, even though their first fight ever just occurred the night before.
The final episode 13 of Free! Eternal Summer contains a lot of Makoto and Haruka moments. Most of them are related with episode 11 :
Makoto came all his way on his own to meet Haruka and Rin from Australia. Haruka seems nervous about looking at Makoto, still feeling distressed about his first fight in episode 11. Haruka is the only one Makoto welcomes with "okaeri", which means "welcome back". After an emotional pause, Haruka replies to Makoto with "tadaima", which means "I'm home".
While both of them are standing by the pool, Haruka apologises to Makoto for everything he said in episode 11. Makoto of course forgives Haruka, and apologizes in turn for not having told Haruka first about his plans to leave for Tokyo.
The look Haru gives Makoto as Makoto talks about his dream for the future can't be described as anything other than completely smitten.
During the final relay, the animal guiding Makoto is a dolphin.
This time, Makoto pulling Haruka out of the swimming pool is really longer than usual, as they are seen gazing and smiling at each other while still holding hands.
Haruka and Makoto both move to Tokyo, and Makoto comes to Haruka's house to pick him up in time for their flight. Makoto calls Haruka "Haru-chan" again while pulling him out of the bathtub again. During the credits, Haruka and Makoto are seen eating together in a restaurant at night, while Haruka helps Makoto with his studies.
In the new drama CD named Free Wake Up Ambushpart 4, Rei and Nagisa convince Makoto to kiss a mackerel that they believe is Haru, in order to turn him back into a human. The reason Makoto is chosen is because they think he most resembles a prince. True love's kiss breaks the spell?
Nagisa : A prince’s kiss… Mako-chan.
Rei : Makoto-senpai.
Makoto : Eh!? Me?!
Rei : You can do it, Makoto-senpai!
Nagisa : At this rate, Haru-chan might die! There’s no water on the bed!
Makoto : Ah… I-I got it. This is for Haru’s sake!
This action recurs in the part 5 of Free wake up Ambush, when Nagisa pushes Makoto to do CPR on Haruka because he is not breathing (sleep apnea, according to Rei).
The special ''Free! ES Talk'' track from the Free -Eternal Summner- Bonus CD 1 shows how well Makoto understands Haru, to the extent that Haru cannot directly lie him:
Makoto : Haru, can you control yourself?
Haruka : Eh!? I can…
Makoto : Answer it while looking at my eyes.
Haruka : I… can't…
Rei : As expected from Makoto-senpai! He can recognize Haruka-senpai’s actions earlier!
Rin's interactions with and about Haruka. All of them either sound like a scorned lover that tried to move on or wants to get more out of the other again. Haru in turn is like a lover that does what he wants and refuses to conform to Rin's ideal. What they talk about is regarding swimming, but has a heavy context of a romantic relationship that can't be maintained because their personal philosophies branched out and became too different.
In the ED, the sequences where the boys are dressed in various Middle-East cosplays, where it is clear that Haru is searching for something he desperately needs and dearly wants, and it is made clear in turn that Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei don't have it, and can't give it to him, but... Rin has it, in abundance, and he knows it, and Haru reacts hungrily...and Rin lets him have it. Maybe you guessed it, we're talking about Haruka's favorite thing in the world: water. True, the visuals of the ED operate on multiple levels, but the Ship Tease level is blindingly obvious.
In the second character song set, Rin got another song about Haru called Over the Dream.
This...very dubious quote from Rin in the first episode, when talking to Haru.
Young Rin: I'll show you a sight you've never seen before.
Still in episode 1, we have this flashback of the boys deciding to bury the trophy they won, young Rin turns to haru and delivers the beautiful "Romantic, right ?"
When Rin said he will go to Australia to train to be an Olympic swimmer, Haru looked visibly upset that he'll move away.
Haruka quit competitive swimming because he hurt Rin.
Rin initiated a conflicted moment with Haru in Episode 4, complete with slamming Haruka against a fence and getting very in his face.
Rin: I need a real race. Or else... I can't move on.
Rin: You will swim for me.
Rin being able to smell Haruka's presence in Episode 5.
More than likely, this is the case. But do remember that he smelt mackerel, not Haru, and that his team was having mackerel for dinner. So it could have been that. (Don't think so, but let's be fair here).
In Episode 7:
Haru getting absolutely fixated on a secret photo Gou took of Rin during their ocean training. The picture dramatically escapes his hands, the wind taking it away from him.
Rin dreaming about sneaking into Haru's house, and only entering the event that Haru is competing in in the tournament even though he's good enough that he could have entered other events as well.
In the end of the episode, Rin won the qualifying relay they both raced in and swore he wouldn't swim with Haru again. Haru looked like someone who gave his heart out and felt used just to release the mental stress Rin harbored.
Haruka and Rin spent all of Episode 8 reminiscing about how much their relationship had changed since they were kids. Haruka being hit particularly hard with why he didn't feel free of Rin's expectation of him.
And in the end, Haru made the closing monologue, "I don't need an answer right away. For now..." after their eyes met.
Episode 10's flashbacks show that Rin has been singlemindedly trying to get Haru to swim with him even when they were still in elementary school, though Haru initially seemed suspicious of and annoyed by Rin. By the time they reunite a year later, Haru runs over to Rin to greet him, chides him for not calling, even smiles and tries to make small talk with him. Rin's influence seems to have drawn Haru out of his stoic shell. Too bad that it's also Rin's influence that also does the exact opposite.
This is an actual quote from High Speed!: "Rin can’t move a muscle, can’t glance away. His heart is completely stolen away by Haruka, slipping through the water with wings spread wide like some great sea bird soaring through the sky."
All over the place in episode 12. First, Haruka being the first to react once Rin feebly gets out of the pool, looking absolutely horrified for Rin. When he goes to confronting Rin by the tree. Rin is so distraught, he grabs Haruka by the collar and tries to punch him, only for them to fall to the ground and start rolling together on the ground. After Rin sees Haruka's message in the dirt, he begins crying while straddling Haruka in a suggestive position. When Haruka invites him to race in the relay, it shows Rin turning to Haruka with tears in his eyes, Cherry Blossoms flying everywhere when Haruka stretches out his hand. After they win the relay, he runs to Haruka, tackles him with a hug, and cries again, thanking Haruka for "the best sight I could have ever asked for." They are shown running into the distance with the rest of the Iwatobi members at the end of the episode.
At the beginning of episode 12, Haru was thinking about Rin. When they were children, Rin wrote "for the team" on his brick for the cherry blossom tree and Haru wrote "free." In the present day, Haru crouched down and wrote Rin's message in the dirt with a stick in front of a similar looking tree. Later, when they have their fight, Rin sees the message in the dirt and starts to cry. He questions Haru why he wrote that instead of "free." In that moment, he probably realized Haru was thinking about him.
Haru crumples to the ground and nearly cries when Rin quits swimming again. Makoto tries to get them all to focus on their race, but Nagisa and Rei both know there's no way Haru is going to be able to swim when he's so upset.
Haru also says that Rin is the one he wants to swim with. Rei offers to give up his spot on the relay to make it happen.
Not to mention that when the rest of the Iwatobi team finds them, they seem to ignore the fact that Rin is straddling Haruka. As though it were the most typical thing in the world.
When Haru and the gang are looking for Rin, the rest of them yell out for him, but Haru is screaming for him to the point where people on the street are staring at him. He has a panicked look on his face. It's probably the most emotion he's ever shown.
Also, after a few minutes of looking, he knew exactly where Rin would be.
Many of Rin and Haru's scenes are framed very romantically. The cherry blossoms, meeting across a train track as a train goes by, ect. These scenes wouldn't have been out of place in a shoujo anime (and in fact, many people have drawn parallels to other anime series such as 5 Centimeters Per Second.)
In a magazine, Rin won an award for "sexiness" and they briefly interviewed his voice actor, Miyano. Miyano talked about what other awards he'd like to see Rin win in the future and he said: "I’d like to improve my sexiness and receive this award again next year. But I think Rin has a lot more attractive things about him so next year I’d like to get the “stoic award” and “the way he takes off his clothes is attractive award”, “the likes swimming award” “but he likes Haruka more~ award” I want to collect them all!"
The drama CDs have a lot of great Rin/Haru moments. For instance, there's one where the boys are reminiscing about their younger days and how Rin used to make a rainbow by splashing around in the pool in a certain way. At the end of the track, Haru gently asks him to make a rainbow again, then jumps into the pool. Rin, who had been flustered, responds (to himself, since Haru jumped into the pool,) "Heh okay, I'll make a rainbow for you."
There's another track where the boys want to compete against each other in a volleyball game. The loser has to play a punishment game where they try to make Haru laugh. Rin attempts to lose the game on purpose just to get the chance to try and make Haru laugh. This is Rin Matsuoka, the boy who lives for competition, especially against Haru. He never loses on purpose.
In the drama portion of the duet CD, Haru asks Rin if he wanted to pull out a separate futon or if he'd prefer to sleep together with him in the same bed - like they used to.
Not to mention that this◊ is the cover art for their Duet CD. Rin looks positively smitten.
When they were kids, Rin wrote this essay for the Iwatobi year book: "My Shining. Iwatobi Elementary School is irreplaceable to me. The brilliance of everything in turn causes me to shine. The sparkling windows, the fluttering butterflies weaving their way through the school garden. All of it dazzles and makes me shining. That is where I also found my other Shining. If one day we can fly to the ends of the earth together, then the light that spreads infinitely will…" The essay cuts off there. Many fans speculate that he's talking about Haru, because Rin has thought about Haru using similar terms before.
In an interview with Shimazaki, Haru's voice actor and Miyano, Rin's voice actor, Shimazaki said "When (Haruka) first felt that Rin was a bright presence, that's what it was. In his nightmare, he sees Rin holding his hand out while this huge light shines from behind him. So, him thinking that Rin is bright is him thinking that the world (that Rin is in) is a bright one." In a way, it's like Rin is Haru's "shining" too.
They had some flirty dialogue the first episode of the second season.
Haruka: Trying to ambush me here, Rin?
Rin: I can give you a handicap if you want.
Rin: You're actually pretty fired up, aren't you?
Rin: I'm going to make that cold face of yours heat up
Rin: See? You're all fired up now.
In one scene Sousuke was talking about Haru with Rin and says "I can see why you're so infatuated with him." It's definitely worth it to note that the way he says it is the exact same way you'd say "I can see why you've fallen for him" in a romantic sense. Rin's reaction is very far from subdued.
Season 2 episode 6 has a moment where Haru is staring at Rin across a parking lot and when Rin notices, he smirks in a suggestive way.
Makoto is jealous of the relationship Rin and Haru have as he tells Nagisa at the end of Season 2 Episode 6 while watching Haru and Rin from a distance.
Kisumi mentions how lonely Haru was without Rin: "I remember how down you got after Rin left for Australia"
In High Speed 2, the second Free! light novel, Rin writes a note to Sousuke from Australia but it is later revealed the note was intended for Haru, Rin was just too shy to send it. Instead he erased all the references that it was addressed to Haru and sent it to Sousuke instead. (Though it's implied he knew Sousuke would show Haru.) The letter talked about Rin's hardships in Australia and also about how Haru was still his inspiration for swimming: "I haven’t forgotten it—not any of it. I remember it all. He’s still there…swimming in front of me. And I’m going to swim as fast as him—as fast as Haru!" Sousuke shows Haru the note and Haru is left speechless and couldn't tear his eyes away from the last sentence.
Also from High Speed 2, it is revealed that Rin's grandma knows about Haru, because Rin apparently wouldn't stop talking about him. After Rin went to Australia, a family friend came over to visit his grandmother and discuss Haru. She had to say about him: “It’s the boy Rin went so far as to transfer schools chasing, after all. You can’t imagine how shocked I was when I heard that was the reason!”
In the 11th episode of Season 2, Sousuke decides to confront Haruka about his plans for the future, or more precisely the complete lack thereof, even going as far as telling Haru whom he positively hates and still "doesn't acknowledge" to "stop wasting time and go forward" because he's afraid Rin will definitely quit swimming and give up on his dream if Haruka doesn't "take a step" towards it too.
In that same scene we have Sousuke saying to Haru: "If you stop, Rin could end up stopping too", "You are important to Rin, you understand that, don't you?", "He needs you".
In the preview for episode 12, we can hear Rin deliver this line to Haru: "From the moment we met, my world has kept expanding. This great big world that goes on forever... and if you'll only look up, I know you'll see it too Haru". Come on !
Actually, everything about the preview. We see Rin is going to take Haru to Australia for his one week off, in something fans on Twitter have been calling "Harurinralia".
As predicted, Episode 12 was basically a Rinharu fest:
Rin shows up on Haruka's doorstep and decides to take him to Australia, doesn't even tell him why, and Haru just follows him like it's not a 10+ hours flight to another continent. Just let the enormity of that sink in.
They sit by the fountain at Hyde Park and Rin apologizes for "ignoring how Haru felt and forcing his own feelings" on him during their figth at Regionals. In that same scene, Rin tells Haru "You know I've always... admired you". What's interesting here, well aside from the obvious, is the use of the verb " to admire". Now in the original japanese version, Rin uses the verb "あこがれる" wich means not to simply admire but to long for, to yearn after, to admire, to be attracted to, to adore.
Rin then takes Haru to the beach he used to go to when he was younger and tells him about his time in Australia in general and how coming to the ocean always made him feel better because across that ocean were Sousuke (his, by his own admission, alter ego and best friend) and Haru (his... what exactly?) and it made him feel closer to them.
Next, Rin takes Haru to his Australian foster family, Lori and Russell:
Before they even knew Haru was there (they hadn't seen him yet), one of the first things they asked Rin when he arrived is if Haru and him were still in each other's lives.
We learn that Rin used to talk about Haruka A LOT during his time in Australia. Russell and Lori knew about Haru's eating habits, his attitude, the colour of his eyes that Rin had described to Lori as "clear as water". They stressed how much Rin used to admire Haru and basically couldn't shut up about him.
As Lori recounts to Haru some of the things Rin used to tell them about him, she winks at Rin suggestively. Rin blushes in embarrassment, says "hey now..." and turns away from Haru to hide his blush. When Haru asks him to translate to him what Lori said, Rin is so embarrassed that he doesn't want to.
Immediately after that, Russell asks Rin if he's got a girlfriend in Japan, to which Rin gives us a very eloquent "Umm... that is... uuuh". Russell laughs a bit and tells him "I guess that's a no then". During that exchange, the "camera" is focused on Haru.
The hotel room Rin booked for Haru and himself turns out to only have one bed. Naturally, they both have no choice but to share. Haru doesn't seem bothered at all by this.
Haru : I guess these things are normal here.
While they're in bed together, Rin decides that it's the perfect moment to talk about feelings, and romantic music kicks in.
Rin : Hey, Haru. I told you I’ve always admired you, right? You might not remembered it, but I still remember, the day I first met you.To be honest, it had never occurred to me that I could lose to someone. But any frustration I felt vanished when I thought“There’s someone more amazing than me. I want to be able to swim like him.” That’s why it’s hard for me when you’re not always there ahead of me, showing me what path I should take. Without you, I have nothing to aim for, you know?
Haru : I remember it, too. That tournament…
Rin : Do you remember the freestyle race we swam during that tournament this spring? When we tied and set a new tournament record together?
Rin :I was testing you then. I wanted to see if that was really the farthest you could go. And when I sensed you coming up from behind me, I knew for sure. That you were definitely going to enter the same world as me. Hey Haru, during that race, did you feel something, too?
Episode 13 included a lot of Haru and Rin moments.
Once they got back from Japan, as Rin was leaving to go back to his own team, Haru stops him and thanks him. Rin responds with an extremely cute smile and blush, since he didn't seem to be expecting it.
Before he left, Makoto Rin and Haru were all looking at the outside of the national pool building together. Rin is the first to look away from it, instead looking at Haru (who is still looking forward) and smiling softly.
Haru talks about how his trip with Rin opened his eyes to how big the whole world was, and how Rin helped him find his dream.
Sousuke and Rin discuss how Rin took Haru to Australia. Sousuke calls it "going overboard." Rin smiles and says it was worth it while looking across the pool at Haru and Iwatobi. Sousuke follows his line of vision and also smiles, saying "I see."
Haru writing "for the future" in the sand is a call back to season 1's "for the team."
When Rin punches open the door for the sakura pool, there's a zoom in on Haru and his reaction alone.
The very last scene of the episode is Haru and Rin standing side by side in the middle lanes of the World Championship in Rome. Rin and Haru look at each other and share a smile before the race starts. We see Haru jumping into the pool, and then "For the Future" is written across the screen - the same as what he wrote in the dirt earlier. Rin and Haru's futures are definitely intertwined, as they're taking the same path in life.
It's been noted that Rin and Haru are wearing the same style of swimsuit in the last scene. It implies that they're on the same team now.
A new magazine cover for Spoon2di has art of Rin, Haru, Sousuke and Makoto standing around a sign post. The signs closest to Rin and Haru, which say Future and Free, are also the only two signs pointing in the same direction.
In regards to Season 2 in general, it's worth noting that in every single episode, there is a reference to their relationship and they don't even interact in all of them.
Episode 3. Just...90% of Nagisa and Rei's interaction, the peak of which has Nagisa outright calling Rei beautiful.
To take a quote from a comment on tumblr: "he literally flirted with Rei until he blushed his way onto the swim team".
Rei also tells Nagisa to take responsibility.
The ending card has a drooling Nagisa sleeping on Rei's shoulder.
In episode 4 there is a "Blink And You'll Miss It" moment when the boys changing at the shopping center. There is a barly one second shot of Rei with the swimsuit not...all the way up. Nagisa makes a certain noise that sounds quite gleeful.
From Episode Five :
Nagisa: Aww, I wanna sleep with Haru-chan...
Rei: You don't want to sleep with me?
Nagisa was very concerned about Rei throughout the episode, offering him help to stand after the long distance swimming and constantly asking him if he was alright.
In Episode Six, Nagisa comes along Haruka to save Makoto and Rei. Nagisa goes to save Rei.
Nagisa sort of picks on Rei by making him open the scary fridge and forcing him to tell them an embarrassing story from his childhood...and he says if Rei ever leaves his underwear in the locker room he'll go get them for him.
After the four are reunited from being separated, Nagisa is the one to defend Rei when Haruka asks him why he went swimming in the ocean at night, saying Rei wanted to catch up to the rest of them.
A post on tumblr said what that scene was trying to say was
Haruka: How dare you put my boyfriend in danger.
Nagisa: What did you say to my boyfriend?
And now there's apparently a drama CD featuring Nagisa trying to convince Rei to let him help shave his junk to improve his swimming speed.
Nagisa's original affectionate behavior of hanging over Haruka transferred to Rei once he joined the swim team.
In the drama CD, when Nagisa talks about who he'd date out of the team if he was a girl, he immediately states he wouldn't date Rei, Rei then asks why and Nagisa explains it's because he'd nag him. Rei then proceeds to list the things that qualify him as a good boyfriend, as if trying to persuade Nagisa that he should date him if the event was to arise.
Also in the drama CD, Rei asks Nagisa about his and Haruka's first meeting, he phrases it as "I want to ask you something" and Nagisa says he'll tell Rei anything and immediately starts listing facts about him, such as his birthday, star sign, and likes/dislikes.
Nagisa and Rei spend most of Episode 9 trying to keep Rin away from Haruka. Rei shadows Rin and updates Nagisa over text message. The fun comes in when Nagisa receives the texts and imagines Rei in dramatic, sexy poses surrounded by bubbles and sparkles.
Also at the end of Episode 9, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of Rei giving Nagisa a shoulder massage and is helping him stretch.
In general Rei and Nagisa are getting along very well in this episode, with Nagisa teasing Rei a little less and Rei handling what teasing he does get much better.
In Episode 11, the gang goes over to Rei's house when he misses a swim meet, and someone asks if anyone has been to his house. No one has except Nagisa, who says he lives nearby and "has stopped by a few times."
At Rei's house when they all enter his room, Nagisa casually lies down on Rei's bed, as if it's the most normal thing in the world.
Spoon 2Di's new cover has the boys all holding hands, but Rei and Nagisa are the only two who have their fingers interlocked...
Rei's horoscope basically says Nagisa is the most compatible with him. Leo and Sagittarius belong to the Fire element.
In the chinese astrology, Leo is associated to the Monkey, and Sagittarius is associated to the Rat. These animals are complementary.
Let's not forget this rather dubious (when out of context) exchange from the drama CDs
Rei: Nagisa-kun? What are you doing with that hand?
Nagisa: I'm going to make you slimy, Rei-chan...
Actually, it's fairly dubious in context. Never mind.
Everything about episode 3 of Eternal Summer, but the highlight is the way Nagisa's speech to Rei begging him not to quit the team came off strongly as a Anguished Declaration of Love, and very romantic framing of the scene in general. And the way Nagisa was the only one to stop Rei from running off in that scene, by grabbing and clinging to his leg.
And in episode 5, where Nagisa might actually be forced to quit the team, Rei returns the favor by passionately declaring that there's no way he'll let the person who cajoled him onto the swim team in the first place leave the team behind. He blushes after he says it, too.
Before Haruka's nightmare in episode 9, Nagisa and Rei are seen sitted at a table in a bar ; also interpreted as a date.
In Eternal Summer episode 13, Haruka and Makoto are praising Nagisa, but Nagisa doesn't start blushing until Rei praises him.
Anyone else felt like Rei's been shot by cupid when he watched Haruka swim for the first time?
Rei was the only one who said Haruka's sketch of Iwatobi-chan was beautiful, Nagisa and Makoto look at him questioningly.
Rei looked at Haru in the end of Episode 4 gratefully for his inspiration to try the butterfly style.
Episode 8, Rei was the first person who wanted to look for Haru after his freestyle lost.
The ending card has Rei eating some cooked meat off Haru's chopsticks.
In episode 9, Haru had no apparent interest in going to the squid festival before hearing that Rei personally wanted him to come. The way Rei's face lights up when he sees that Haru came after all is just plain cute.
In Episode 11, Rei made a very passionate speech against Rin for antagonizing Haruka to the point he quit swimming in middle school and upseting him during prefecturals.
Episode 3 of Eternal Summer made Rei/Haru fans very happy too. From the reiteration of the fact that Haru is the person Rei looks up to most as a swimmer and as a teammate, to the fact that Haru, in one of his rare moments of emotional candor, pleads for the person who, in his own words, saved both himself and Rin not to leave the team. The high point of the episode is the point where Haruka acknowledges all of Rei's hard work practicing all of the swim strokes that he previously couldn't swim at all. Rei looks like he's so happy he might weep.
"I really love the way you swim, Haruka-senpai."
Episode 10 of Eternal Summer features another Rei/Haru ending card, this time of Haruka and Rei crouching beside a stream to look at a mother duck and her baby ducklings. Innocent enough, but notable because they're the only relationship besides Makoto/Haruka, Rin/Haruka, and Rei/Nagisa (the big 3 pairings of the show) to get more than one ending card. Someone at KyoAni must really like them.
In episode 13, Rei is completely worried about Haruka's state. Nagisa even repeat it to Haruka.
Nagisa, to Haruka : Jeez! Rei-chan was really worried about you, you know.
Rei : N-Nagisa-kun!
Nagisa's reasoning for enrolling in Iwatobi High was so he could watch Haru swim and to swim with him again.
In Episode Five, Nagisa says he wants to sleep in a tent with Haruka, saying he thought Rei was the type of person to grind his teeth while he sleeps; if that was the case, wouldn't sharing a tent with Makoto also solve that situation?
The ending card of Episode 6 has Haruka and Nagisa comparing tan lines.
In the drama CD, Nagisa reacts with shock to the fact that Haruka picked Makoto as the one he most wanted to date, and quickly says he'd make mackerel for Haruka if they dated in order to change his mind (and it worked).
In the drama CD, it depicts how Nagisa and Haruka first met, which involved Haruka giving his swimsuit to Nagisa because one of his sisters put in one of theirs in his bag and said he hated swimming. After telling the story, Nagisa discovers his sisters pulled the same prank on him and Haruka once again offered him a swimsuit (this time a spare), Haruka acted as he didn't remember the event, but after lending a suit to Nagisa, he said he didn't want to hear him say he hates swimming. Nagisa is happy to see he remembered their meeting and hugs him, making them fall into the pool and proclaiming aloud, "I love you, Haru-chan!"
In the same drama CD, Rei asks about Nagisa and Haruka's relationship, Haruka says "relationship" in a confused tone that sounded as if he thought by "relationship" Rei meant if he and Nagisa were in a romantic relationship.
Also in the same drama CD, Rei asks why Nagisa is emotionally attached to Haruka.
In Episode 9, after winning the relay and Haruka gets out of the pool, Nagisa exclaims aloud "I love you, Haru-chan!" and hugs him, wrapping his legs around his waist and clinging onto him.
It's also worth noting that he used 'aishiteru', which carries far heavier romantic connotations than 'daisuki'.
In Episode 5 of Eternal Summer, Haruka has no qualms letting a runaway Nagisa stay over at his house for the night.
Really, from the fact that Haru is the one Nagisa comes to first for help when he's in a crisis, to the fact that Haru is the one who consistently takes his side compared to Makoto and the first to offer that help without caveats, multiple times, and also the one to call Ms. Amakata to make sure she knows what's going on and can help them get the situation with Nagisa's parents resolved safely, Haruka's way of showing that he cares about Nagisa is subdued, but unmistakable.
The entire "roommate diary" clip series on the drama CD, entirely about Nitori writing about the things Rin does and how perfect he is.
Another from a drama CD, a culture festival involves Rin having to dress up in a maid outfit. Nitori goes on the entire time about how pretty he looks.
Nitori: Your legs that I can glimpse through your petticoat are so tight and wonderful!
In Episode 7 he seems very concerned about Rin only swimming in the same event as Haru in the tournament. So much so that it kinda comes off as jealousy.
Also in Episode 7, Rin was comfortable enough to tell Nitori the story of his father's Olympic dreams, and how he died, outside of the original Iwatobi swimmers.
Nitori deeply cares about Rin and sticks to him like how Makoto sticks to Haruka, always asking if Rin is okay, and helping his training during practice.
In Episode 9, he has demonstrated that he knows when to give Rin space and respect that he wants to be alone at times, and he understood this without being told, when he usually needs to be.
In episode twelve, after having spent the last several episodes yelling at Nitori when he tries to help and refusing to open up to him, Rin apologises and asks to train with him the next day. The look on Nitori's face is nothing short of joyous.
Immediately topped by Rin starting to call him Nitori like usual— and then correcting himself to Ai. Not only is he calling him by his first name (which is Aiichirou), he's calling him by a shortening of it which sounds like a girl's name, bringing him into the group and making him no longer second-string. Ai returns the favour and starts calling him "Rin-sempai" rather than "Matsuoka-sempai".
Almost certainly a coincidence, but many people have noticed that the kanji for the Ai part of his name literally means 'love', making the whole scene just a little bit cuter.
In one of the drama CD sketches, Rin and Haruka decide to have a competition to see who can swim the fastest. After undressing with characteristic quickness, they set off, but reach the end at the same time. The other boys pass this off as a tie but then Nitori exclaims that Rin was the one to get undressed faster. Rei claims that they can't be sure...until Nitori declares that he's been recording everything the whole time. Sure, it made sense to record the swimming, but why did he need to record the undressing, even before Rin and Haruka had tied...?
In Eternal Summer, Rin encouraging Ai and asking him to not call Rin "captain".
Episode 11 brought out Rin/Rei in full swing. The two get off on the wrong foot right away but during their confrontation, Rei answers to Rin why he's concerning himself and explains that he wants to be the best team and the team effects him. Rin pretty much has an epiphany right there since Rei's response mirrored the one his child self gave during their relay in elementary school. It shows how he sees his old self in Rei. This is significant because until this point NOBODY was able to get through to him.
Before Nagisa and the others visit his home, Rei is seen thinking about Rin's shocked face after he told him Haru quit swimming because of him, and appears troubled by it. Even though he would later tell the others that he's moved past the Rin issue.
Also in Episode 11 even though he just met him, Rin asks Gou for Rei's number and calls him out in the middle of the night to talk.
Despite knowing Haru, Makoto, and Nagisa far longer, Rin decides to open up to Rei about his experiences in Australia.
Episode 12 has Rei give up his spot on the relay so Rin can swim with his friends again. After this, in the end credits, Rin calls Rei by his first name without any honorifics, signifying that the two have at the very least become friends.
Episode 2 of Eternal Summer: Rin's "You don't want to get bitten" line to Rei was already quite suggestive, but the even more suggestive expression◊ he made during the delivery turned the effect Up to Eleven. Not in the least surprisingly, this line spawned an influx of fanwork.
In Episode 3 of Eternal Summer, the team suspects Rei of a girlfriend and then being in love with the track team captain when he suddenly starts to behave suspiciously, constantly running off and excusing himself by saying he has 'an errand to run' every day. It turns out he was meeting with Rin in the afternoons after practice, and that Rin was helping him learn and practice the other strokes that he didn't know how to swim. In the scene where we see them practice they're very friendly and comfortable with each other too. To top it off, it turns out the cookies Rin was eating and seemed protective over were not made by Gou, but by Rei, in return for the lessons, and that he specifically baked them with Rin's health requirements in mind.
The preview for episode 8 is intended to mirror one of the previews in the first season, with Rei mangling the pronunciation of English words and Rin correcting him. The words in the first season are "All Out", whereas the words in the second season are... "Kiss Me". Said several times in increasingly lower and more breathy voices and finished off with an English "perfect body" from each of them. Fans were ecstatic.
The horoscope of Rei is the most compatible for Rin's.
Everything about their relationship, from the way Rin is remarkably at ease with Sousuke, more than we've seen him be with anyone, even post Character Development, their elaborate secret handshakes and rock paper scissors matches showing how in sync they are with another, to the way Sousuke threatens Haru for Rin's sake both like an overprotective partner and a jealous ex.
Let's just do this the fast way and say the entirety of episode 10. This line deserves special mention:
Rin: Why didn't you tell me this earlier?
Sousuke: Because I knew you would cry.
Another moment of note comes right at the end. Sosuke says he's finally found this 'it' he's been on about and Rin promptly proceeds to cry again, then knee him in the butt, saying "about time."Wait, what?
Plus the revelation that Sousuke literally came to Iwatobi, that is to say, moved back to his hometown and transferred schools, just so he can be with Rin.
Episode 11 of Free! Eternal Summer shows :
We can see Momotarou as a curious shipper of them. First, Momotarou comes in their room to ask them first if they live near to each other. Second, he asks them excited if Rin and Sousuke will go back together.
The discussing of Sousuke with Haruka concern Rin again, and Haruka suddenly asks why Sousuke is always concerned about Rin. A way to tell Sousuke seems to be selfless, because he always talked to Haruka about Rin in the entire season 2.
Episode 12 of Free! Eternal Summer includes Sousuke even if he doesn't make an appearance in. Rin talks about Sousuke fights as a comparaison of Makoto and Haruka's first fight. It is supposed to mean that nothing has changed between them, that everything has always been alright.
In Episode 1, Nagisa casually strips naked in front of Makoto before cheerfully jumping into the pool. Afterwards, he pulls Makoto into the pool with him , forcing Makoto to take off his shirt and they have water play fight. With Nagisa being Nagisa, he's pretty much flirting with Makoto in that whole scene.
In episode 05 of Free! Eternal Summer, Nagisa comes to Makoto's to want to play. During the interrogation, Nagisa lies to Makoto. When Nagisa sees everyone defending him, Makoto wants to protect Nagisa.
Makoto, to Nagisa : Nagisa! Hide behind me!
In episode 13, Makoto pets Nagisa' head to confort him. During the relay 400 meters, the animal guiding Nagisa is a killer whale.
In Episode 2, Makoto is the first one to get a hold of Rin's number (probably from Gou) and call him.
One of the first times Rin has a feeling that isn't anger is in Episode 5, when Gou tells him that the Iwatobi team is training in the ocean. Rin looks concerned and asks if Makoto is okay before quickly throwing the Tsundere mask back on.
In episode 1 of Free! Eternal Summer, Makoto with the others prepare a surprise for Rin to swim in a swimming pool all covered by cherry blossom petals. Later, Rin asks Makoto and Haruka about their futures.
In episode 9, Rin finds Makoto at the door and stays to ask him about his future.
In episode 11, Makoto sends a message to Rin. In episode 12, Makoto says to Nagisa and Rei he talked to Rin about the situation with Haruka. It is unknown if Makoto told about his fight with him.
In episode 13, Makoto comes all this way on his own to welcome Rin and Haruka back from Australia. Rin is enjoyed to see him.
Rin : You came all this way to meet us ?
Later at the end, Rin invites all the Iwatobi members to swim a swimming pool all covered by cherry blossom petals.
One CD track named Makoto and Rin with a black Cat features Rin, having sent a call to Makoto to come to Samezuka in order to help him with his cat always scratching him, since he learnt that Makoto is used to handle cats.
In one of the FrFr! shorts, we find out that Rei chose to borrow the penguin speedo from Nagisa because he felt it was the best out of the options Nagisa presented for showing off his legs. He specifically decides this after asking both Haru and Makoto for advice on picking out a swimsuit and Makoto calls his legs beautiful.
Further the quarrel with Nagisa wanting to sleep with Haruka in episode 06 of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, Makoto and Rei sleep together in one same tent. Later in the night, Rei is trapped into a storm and Makoto runs to save him since Rei doesn't float.
After failing to save Rei but saved by Haruka in episode 06, Makoto hurries to search for Rei. Later, Rei asks about Makoto's change state when he was swimming to save him.
In episode 03 of Free! Eternal Summer, Makoto replies to Nagisa not to let Rei leave the swimming club. Later, Makoto organises one meeting at Haruka's home.
In episode 13, Makoto pets Rei's head while sobbing.
The cleavage incident. Specifically, Momotaro Mikoshiba - ex-swim team captain Seijurou's little brother - happens to enter Rin's dorm room when the latter is lying down, dressed in a tank top. The 'cleavage' Momotaro refers to is in fact Rin's collarbone and upper chest. An oddly suggestive choice of word, Momotaro...
In episode 13, Momotarou appears all excited from behind Aiichiro and asks Rin about a souvenir from Australia, that Rin puts on Momotarou's head to mean he didn't forget his earlier request before to leave.
Momotarou : Rin-senpai! Can I have my souvenir, please ?
Rin : You're annoying. Jeez!
In season 2, Sousuke seems to be the one Nitori opens up to about his difficulties and sadness at not being able to improve.
Sousuke takes the time to coach Nitori late at night (then gets tsundere when Rin teases him about it later).
The endcard for season 2, episode 11 features Sousuke helping Nitori with weight training.